Thousands of Singaporeans spend inordinate hours inside the office. But just how dirty can your office be? A study published by the Kimberly-Clark Professional in 2012 confirmed what has been suspected all along – the office is a very dirty place. In said study, hygienists took 5,000 swab samples of different office areas to determine Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) levels, which is a substance present in bacteria, mold and yeast. The higher the ATP level, the higher the number of contaminants found in such area.
The study found that most germ-infested zones pertained to where most people frequently came in contact with and where employees usually ate their meals. Further, statistics shows that employees, on an average, are exposed to at least 10 million bacteria every day inside the office. In another study conducted in 2014, it was discovered that virus transmission in the office occurred rapidly as germs from one ill employee can spread to other employees and office surfaces in a matter of four hours.
List of Dirtiest Things in the Office
Here are some of worst hygiene offenders in work spaces:
- Copy machine buttons
According to Hloom, a photocopier has four times more bacteria than a pet bowl. It is a germ ridden spot in the office, which contains more than 1.2 billion colony forming units (CFU) per square inch. Since almost all employees press the buttons throughout the day, it’s no surprise that buttons start accumulating germs and bacteria.
Office keyboards are germ hot spots inside the office. The American Journal of Infection Control found that keyboards operate as transmitters of diseases. After analyzing the swabs taken from 30 computer keyboards, scientists found that keyboards contained multiple microbes like Micrococcus Staphylococcus aureus and epidermidis. A new study by CBT Nuggets revealed that keyboards harbor 3,543,000 bacteria per square inch. Also, in a study published by Dr. Gerba, 27% of keyboard had ATP levels greater than 300.
Harmful germs and bacteria are often transferred onto telephones, one of the commonly used equipment in the office. According to a study, high levels of contamination were found in office telephones, having at least 25,000 germs per square inch.
In a study published in the Annals of Clinical Microbiology and Antimicrobials, it was found that 94.5%of the phones were contaminated with bacteria, which were mostly immune to antibiotics. It was also discovered that significant number of germs were transferred through shared contact points, transmission of germs from hands to phones. More than 30%of the bacteria ended up transferred to the phone user’s hands.
According to the Kimberly-Clark study, the office kitchen sink is crawling with bacteria and sits atop the list of dirtiest office areas. It showed that 75% of sink faucet handles were highly contaminated with bacteria. A study by the Food Protection Trends published in 2015 found that the kitchen sink, along with sponges and counter tops had high bacterial counts. According to Associate Professor Quinlan, author of Journal of Food Protection, 44% of kitchen sinks surveyed in her research study contained fecal matter and E. coli.
50 different bacteria can thrive in a toilet seat per square inch. Shared office toilets are riddled with nasty microorganisms and fecal-borne bacteria, including diarrhea-causing E. coli, streptococcus and S. aureus. Warm and acidic urinal discharges are likewise ideal for exponential bacterial growth. The alkaline salt, which is a result of transforming acid to alkaline, attracts moisture which feeds bacteria.
Dr. Gerba’s study in 1997 revealed that 90% of office mugs are contaminated with germs. In fact, 20% of the cups contained fecal matter. Use of communal kitchen sponge by employees contributed to the high germicidal growth found in the cups.
Ways to Minimise the Spreading of Germs
The following tips can be helpful to minimise the growth of germs and bacteria in the office:
- Employees must make it a habit to wash hands regularly. It is most essential in preventing the spread of contagious diseases. An antibacterial gel can likewise be used if handwashing is not possible.
- Regularly wipe equipment, desks and commonly used items in the office such as elevator buttons, telephones and copier buttons.
- When cleaning dusty equipment, use an anti-bacterial spray if possible.
- Employers should keep the workplace properly equipped with paper towels, sanitizers and soap.
- Empty rubbish bins regularly and regularly dispose of decomposing food in office pantry.
If you want to ensure that your office environment is hygienic and sanitary, you may opt to hire the services of a professional office cleaning company. Licensed cleaning technicians do not only clean, they can disinfect the dirtiest things in your office. Contact Avalon Services for a free quote today.